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Angel’s Landing Zion National Park – Virtual Hike

While staying in Springdale UT at the gates to Zion National Park, Mark elected to hike the popular yet scary and dangerous Angel’s Landing trail to the top of Angel’s Landing. Katarina elected to not attempt the hike due to her uneasiness around heights and knees that get very sore during steep ascents and descents. As a favor to her, and now you, Mark took along the camera and snapped a series of photos to document the ascent.

Starting at the Grotto Shuttle stop just past the Zion Lodge the trail begins with a leisurely stroll over a bridge and along the Virgin River.

After a few hundred yards the trail begins the ascent after rounding a corner that presents an unobstructed view of the peak you are about to climb.

To ease the grade of ascent the original trail builders included countless switchbacks etched up the sandstone cliffs. Dramatic views of the trail are had throughout the journey. The following may look like pictures of a rock face but study them closely and you will see the trail etched into the cliff face. The rate of ascent, if the burning in the legs are not a reminder enough, is noticeable at each switchback turn.

Not even 1 mile in to the hike the trail is already paralleling sheer drops that quickly remind you of your mortality.

After about 500 feet of climbing it is easy to look back down at the elaborate switchbacks you have just ascended

Passing the 1 mile marker the trail levels out at the top of the first major ascent into what is commonly called Refrigerator Canyon. The trail gently meanders along a less large but nonetheless steep crevice between Angel’s Landing and the adjoining sandstone face. Shielded from direct sunlight this area stays significantly cooler than the ambient temperature and offers a nice respite from the vigorous climb.

After a quarter mile of cool hiking the trail abruptly pitches skyward utilizing the famous Walter’s Wiggles switchbacks. Designed by an early curator for the park these engineering marvels were built by men and horses to make this trail a reality. Steeply graded the switchbacks take you up another few hundred feet in a matter of minutes.

At the top of Walter’s Wiggles is the point were most sane folks call it a day and enjoy the well earned views. This saddle, Scout Overlook, is situated to allow the brave to look back down into Zion Canyon over a sheer rock face or the more meek to sit further back from the precipice and enjoy a more serene rest within the trees and brush

From Scout Overlook the serious danger begins. The remaining .6 miles to the top of Angel’s Landing follows a narrow trail, sometimes with chain handrails and sometimes without, along a narrow outcropping of stone reaching to the top of the mountain. Faint of heart need go no further; people have died falling from this trail!

Mark thought ahead and brought along his mountain biking gloves to wear while navigating the chain hand rails. The grippy material aided in ensuring a solid hand hold while protecting the knuckles from being scrapped on the sand-paper rough stone (a very useful recommendation for this trail). Many of the hand-holds along the chain section are set-up more for adult reach and could be tricky for teens and smaller folks. It really is a workout to make this climb.

The .6 miles to the top takes just about the same amount of time as the preceding 1.4 mile climb to the rest area. The challenge of this last stretch of the trail is exacerbated by the two false tops you reach along the way. At each point you are able to see the delicate trail arching over the back of the next ridge.

After the first false top the trail drops to a famous landmark along the route. Hikers are forced to cross a narrow outcrop bordered by sheer 1000 foot drops on either side with the only hand support of a chain railing. A large volume of folks never pass this obstacle, turning back at the sight.

Completing the narrow bridge is greeted with an equaling challenging ascent along a narrow path. One false move and the final trip will be a long fall to the valley below. One thing to note is that most people ascend the trail with relative ease. Mark noticed while climbing that the majority of folks descending back down, with the help of fatigue, seemed to slip and stumble very often. The hike is only half completed at the top so setting a good pace throughout is vitally important.

The last ridge is finally in sight. This final climb is the safer of this overall dangerous section as you have finally reached the wider plateau of Angel’s Landing.

The views from the top of Angel’s Landing are reward enough for what is for many the first serious mountain climb of their lives. On this day in early spring the weather did not disappoint.

After a long lounge at the top it was time to begin the return trip er hike (tripping would be really bad). Looking back down the trail you are reminded that this really was a crazy, scary, yet exhiliarating idea

Angels’ Landing in Zion National Park is one of the more famous trails in all of the National Park System. Right up there with the hike to Half Dome in Yosemite the climb transports thousand of mere mortals into another world of adventure, danger, and beauty only found in the great outdoors. In the end Mark was proud of his accomplishment, sad he could not share the trip in person with Katarina, yet glad she did not attempt a trail that would have been beyond her limits.

Hope you enjoyed this virtual journey with Mark at Zion National Park.


One Response to “Angel’s Landing Zion National Park – Virtual Hike”

  1. Teresa says:

    Wow you are very brave just the thought of that climb up that high gives me chills it so awesome that we get to take the tour with you via the pictures. Congrats on the 2 years what a wonderful life style you have created for your selves. Continue on your journey. Love ya lots.